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#PickoftheWeek | Enjoy Handel’s Messiah masterpiece at four Queens venues
Georg Frideric Handel was a German composer. His biggest hit was “Messiah,” which debuted as an Easter offering in Ireland in 1742. Nevertheless, the masterpiece rules the Christmas season in Queens in 2018…In fact, it’s featured in all four upcoming holiday concerts in the borough.
Queens College’s Choral Society will present its 78th annual Winter Concert in Flushing’s Colden Auditorium on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 pm. (Tickets are $20.)
Queens College has a world-renown music department, and this choral society includes faculty members, students, and non-affiliated singers who range from high school students to adults who have been with the group for more than 40 years. On this night, soprano Anna Marie Wood, mezzo-soprano Linda Collazo, tenor David Szabo, and baritone Robert Balonek will do solos under the conduction of professor James John.
And of course, the main feature will be a rendition of “Messiah.”
On the same day, Dec. 8, Queens Consort will present Music for Yuletide at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Jackson Heights at 7 pm. (General admission is $20 at the door.)
Queens Consort is the borough’s first-ever Baroque ensemble, and as the name suggests, it favors music from the 17th and 18th centuries with a heavy emphasis on Italian composers. Members play harpsichords, recorders, and string instruments that were used in Europe between about 1600 and 1750 AD.
On this night, Queens Consort will offer selections from “Messiah” along with music for the season by Corelli and Telemann, and some early carols.
The next chance to hear a version of this magnus opus will be at the Christmas Concert at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Roman Catholic Church in Forest Hills on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 4 pm. (General seats cost $35.)
The host church’s Sacred Music Society will join forces with Oratorio Society of Queens members for this annual event. (This means dozens of singers under the direction of Maestro David Close.) On this afternoon, guests from the Orchestral Arts Ensemble of Queens, soprano Jennifer Gliere, tenor Byron Singleton, and bass-baritone Nathan Bahny will join the fun. They will do some holiday favorites and – are you ready? — a portion of “Messiah.”
Music lovers will have one week to rest. Then, the Oratorio Society of Queens will present its annual Holiday Concert at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center in Bayside on Sunday, Dec. 16, at 4 pm. (Prices run from $10 to $40.)
Maestro David Close will lead this 125-member-plus chorus and orchestra with the same cast of characters from the Orchestral Arts Ensemble of Queens — soprano Gliere, tenor Singleton, and bass-baritone Bahny.
The first half will mix selections from “Messiah” (what else?) and Strauss. Some Chanukah favorites, such as “Mi Y’Maleil” and “Ma’oz Tsur,” a suite of Christmas carols, a fun version of Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad,” and maybe even some New Year music will fill the second half.
Editor’s note: So what’s up with this “Messiah” phenomenon, anyway? As much as possible in an age with no electricity or mass media, the work was a worldwide sensation ever since it debuted at Dublin’s Musick Hall on April 13, 1742. Mozart re-orchestrated it in 1789 and praised Handel’s genius.
The three-part English oratorio’s structure resembles opera, but it’s not in dramatic form. It begins with Old Testament prophets describing a coming Messiah and the annunciation of the virgin birth to the shepherds. The second part deals with Christ’s passion and contains the famous “Hallelujah” chorus. The finale covers Christ’s resurrection.
Handel remains a bit of an enigma. Though born in Germany, the composer became a British subject before dying. He never married and not much is known about his personal life, except that he became obese late in life.
Top image: Oratorio Society of Queens; bottom image: Our Lady of Martyrs Roman Catholic Church
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